Interview With Static-X's Tony Campos July 22nd, 2020 • Interview #166
Metal Pulp And Paper: Hello Tony. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it. Before we dive into talking about Static-X’s latest release, Project: Regeneration: Vol 1, first off, how are you doing? The coronavirus pretty much brought the world and the music industry to a screeching halt. How have you been holding up during this pandemic?
Tony Campos: I’ve been doing ok with it. When I’m not out on tour, I never really leave the house, so things aren’t too different for me. I’ll hit a drive thru for food, and I do most of my shopping online. That being said, it sucks I can’t go out and tour. I’m usually on tour at least six months out of the year; I’ve already been home longer than that. I’ve managed to stay busy, though, working on the Project: Regeneration record and various other projects, so all in all, it ain’t so bad.
MPAP:Static-X’s 7th studio release, the first release in 10 years featuring the late Wayne Static’s last recorded vocals hit the world July 10th. It took a lot to put this all together, along with having to deal with the coronavirus simultaneously when you were trying to set a release date. Now that the dust has settled, how does it feel to release this to all the die-hard fans out there finally?
Tony: It feels great to finally get this out to the fans, and to hear that they’re really enjoying it. We’ve had a few delays along the way, including ones caused by the pandemic, and we had to disappoint the fans by not being able to meet our originally anticipated release date, but I’m glad they finally have it and feel like it was worth the wait.
MPAP: Yes, it was worth the wait. So, before Wayne passed away in 2014, he was working on some demos which he had sent to a producer, who also happened to be a mutual friend of yours. Years later, that producer discovered those recordings of Wayne’s and then contacted you. How many of those specific demos ended up on Vol 1, because after you were contacted, you additionally found some songs that didn’t make Static-X’s 2005s Start A War release that had Wayne’s vocals on them?
Tony: Actually, I received those initial five demos not too long after Wayne had passed. Two of those are on Vol. 1.
MPAP: Those demos that Wayne had recorded were I’m assuming not originally intended to be in the style of Static-X, more than likely they were going to be for his solo band. Maybe a follow up to his 2011 Pighammer release?
Tony: Wayne really only wrote in one style: Evil Disco. Whether he intended to label it as Static-X or for his solo band, I really don’t know. I know he had discussed making another Static record with the producer that gave me the demos but, at this point, all we can do is speculate.
MPAP: Were there ever any thoughts about, maybe you should just add music to those vocal demos of his and interpret how maybe Wayne would have recorded the music, and not add the Static-X name to them?
Tony: That’s kinda what we did. For the vocal only demos, we wrote what felt like something Wayne would’ve come up with during that early era of the band. Once Koichi, Ken, and I got involved, adding our ideas on top of that, it became a Static song. It was a really cool process. Working on that first batch of demos was kind of like working with Wayne again. Back in the early days, he would come into the rehearsal room with his Alesis HR-16 drum machine with some program on there and a guitar riff or two. That’s pretty much what those demos consisted of, so it really helped put us back in that mindset and recapture that vibe from the early days. When working on the vocal only tracks, which we found much later, we had to reverse that process, but it was still really cool. So yeah, it was all of us working on music together again, so it felt right to give it the Static-X label.
MPAP: Like mentioned, some of Wayne’s vocals we are hearing for the very first time from songs that didn’t make the Start A War record. When you discovered those vocals, had you ever heard them before?
Tony: Yeah, I was in the studio when Wayne tracked those vocals. I hadn’t heard those songs in a long time, though.
MPAP: What about the music for those particular songs? Most of the music that was intended for the songs were lost or severely damaged, do you remember anything about them?
Tony: I think you’re confusing the songs that never made the SAW record with the last batch of demos we found. The songs "Bring You Down," "Hollow," and "Worth Dyin For" were part of the SAW sessions, and were dug up by our long time producer Ulrich Wilde. We kept Wayne’s vocal performances, and wrote new music underneath. The original music wasn’t up to snuff, which is why they didn’t make the SAW record. We felt like we could do a better job, adding more of a Wisconsin Death Trip vibe to them. That last batch of demos we found, a lot of those tapes were damaged, and we were only able to recover vocal performances for a lot of that stuff. These were things Wayne was demoing on his own, so I never heard the majority of that stuff, including any music that may have accompanied those vocal performances.
MPAP: Moving forward, unfortunately, you had some friction with Wayne before he passed away. Do you think eventually for whatever happened between the both of you, that everything would have been water under the bridge, and Static- X would have gotten back together in due time? Before his passing, were there ever any talks of getting the original Static-X lineup back together?
Tony: I truly believe, if Wayne had been able to recover from his addictions and distance himself from the negative influences in his life, he would be here with us, and you’d be talking to him instead of me. I really wish that had been the case. At one point, someone working for him reached out to me and asked if it was a possibility, but, unfortunately, he was still in the throes of drug addiction, and that just wouldn’t have been a good situation for anyone.
MPAP: Initially Project: Regeneration was supposed to include previously unreleased tracks with Wayne Static's vocals along with guest vocals by David Draiman, Ivan Moody, Dez Fafara, Burton C. Bell, Al Jourgensen, Edsel Dope, among others. Once more of Wayne’s vocals were discovered, it ended up only Al Jourgensen from Ministry would guest on the new Static-X release. How hard was it to not have all of those great singers on the new recordings?
Tony: It wasn’t a difficult decision. The main reason we wanted to do that is because we didn’t have any vocals, and thought it would be cool to have friends and people Wayne admired step in for him. Once we found more of his vocals, there really weren’t very many holes left to fill. It would have been really cool to have all those guests on the record, but to be able to hear Wayne again, it really was a no brainer.
MPAP: And then, how was it decided Al would be the best fit for the "Dead Souls" song and not any of the others?
Tony: The demo for that song reminded me of a Ministry song called "The Fall". It had a really cool piano part reminiscent to that song, so I knew it would be a great fit for Al. Ministry was a huge influence on us, and Wayne had known Al back in the old Chicago Wax Trax days. I know Wayne would be just as excited as we are to have Al singing on one of our records.
MPAP: Before we bring this interview to a close, let’s talk about that song “Dead Souls”. It’s very mesmerizing. Al’s vocals fit in perfectly alongside Wayne’s. You almost wish the song was 10 minutes long instead of it being just under five minutes. And, in a way, it almost sounds like it’s a Ministry song with Wayne guest vocals on it? Is that bad to think? That’s how killer the song is, it could have gone in either direction of it being a Static-X song with Al guesting, or a Ministry song with Wayne guesting.
Tony: Haha. Yeah, like I said, the demo reminded me of "The Fall". It’s probably why Wayne never showed it to me. When I played the demo for Al, he told me, "Yeah, you picked the right one for me." We’ve always freely admitted to ripping off Ministry and Prong, and I think it’s why Al and Tommy Victor are ok with it and why I was able to befriend and even work with those guys. I’m really happy with the way that song turned out, and it’s one of my favorites on the record.
MPAP: Project: Regeneration Vol 2 is still in the process of being recorded with the rest of Wayne’s vocals and does not have a release date as of yet, but what happens with Static-X after that? Do you continue on with XerO and create new original music, or is that when Static-X closes the curtains?
Tony: We’ll figure that out once we finish the record. It’s really up to the fans, if they want to see us continue as Static-X with XerO. I still want to do other things. I’d love to play for Ministry or the Cavalera bros. again. I’m also working on a new Asesino record. I’ve had a blast working with Ken and Koichi again, and, if the fans are down, I’d like to keep doing that as well. We shall see.
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Tony, for doing this interview. We look forward to seeing Static-X go back on tour when the virus settles down, and we definitely look forward to hearing Volume 2. The music world is a bit brighter with you keeping the legacy of Wayne’s vocals alive for all to hear.
Tony: Thanks for having me. I appreciate all the love and support from the fans, and I’m happy we were able to deliver this record, and make them feel like we’ve done right by Wayne. We hope to do the same with Vol. 2. Stay safe out there, and hope to see you all sooner than later.